Read a compilation of responses from Department of Sanitation worker Anthony Palmieri, who worked for nine months with the DSNY at the World Trade Center site:
“I was working for the New York City Department of Sanitation around 215th Street in Manhattan. I had been with the department since 1984. That day, I was with my partner, Joe, doing our regular collection route. Someone passed us and said, ‘Did you hear a plane hit the World Trade Center?’ We thought, like most New Yorkers, that it was a terrible accident. When we heard the second plane hit, we knew it was more than a coincidence. It was a day that you wish you could forget, but you can’t.
“From the Sanitation garage, we could see the smoke from the towers. It was far, but you could see it. My first thoughts were about my wife and children…I tried to get home as fast as possible to make sure they were safe. At the time, I was also a volunteer firefighter in New Jersey, and I thought my company would be called in. I got in my car to go home, but the traffic was horrendous…every road was a mess…
“The Department of Sanitation’s role, when we first got down there, was anything and everything that had to be cleaned or moved. We started on the outer perimeter, cleaning buildings, washing streets, throwing out rotting food from vacant stores. It was non-stop, 24 hours a day. Most of the time, I was cleaning up in that capacity. For a few days, I also drove a truck which carried steel out from the pit and brought it over for transfer to the barges on the East River. As time progressed, we had to start handling the garbage that accumulated from places of rest for volunteers. I was there working for about nine months.”
Image from NYU